Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Speak Easy

I have learned much during this past year about PTSD. I have written here numerous times about my recovery attempts, this year trying exposure therapy. The problem with this therapy however, is that the crux of the treatment is to be able to talk about the details of the trauma.

I have never been able to talk about the details of that day. Not with my closet friends. Not even with Martha. And I didn’t do any better with my therapist. Mostly she asked me questions. I tried to answer. Mostly nodded. I stammered. I stumbled. I could talk about some peripheral things. I could get close to some things. But still could never really verbalize the details, the terror, or the emotions.

My therapist has explained to me that since the trauma does not seem to exist in verbal memory, and I am unable to talk about it, I cannot release the emotions associated with the event in a verbally controlled way. This results in the trauma remaining in another form of memory and instead comes out in disruptive, frightening, image-loaded flashbacks.

So after a year of trying every imaginable angle, my therapist talked to me about hypnotherapy. It took months to convince me to try it, mostly because I was terrified to actually hear what it was I couldn’t say under normal conditions. Surely there is a very good reason my mind has totally blocked out some of the memories. But I have set an end date to therapy of June and I am feeling the pressure to do something, anything to get past the brick wall.

This past week I was hypnotized. My therapist spent a long time explaining to me every thing she would be doing. Everything she would be asking. And getting my permission for things she wanted to suggest to my subconscious mind. And she assured me that the first time would be very gentle, more of a learning experience for her and where she could go.

The experience was much more comfortable than I had imagined. Being in a super relaxed state is so very foreign to me, so opposite from my normal uber vigilant, always fighting to maintain control, mode. I was able to speak of a few things I had never been able to before. And I got a glimpse of how being able to speak it allows the emotions to escape from the cage I keep those feelings in.

It is just a beginning. We are going to work slowly toward the core problem. I am both terrified and hopeful at the same time. But the absolute best thing was that after the hypnosis, I slept. Like most PTSD sufferers, I experience constant sleep disturbances and wake up fitfully at the crack of dawn, full of anxiety. But I slept long and deep and uninterrupted. In fact, I slept so long I was woken by my secretary calling to ask why I wasn’t at work yet. Wow. If the hypnotherapy does nothing else, I will be extremely grateful for a good night’s sleep.


  1. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.

    (Christopher Robin to Pooh)

    Your dedication to working through this is an inspiration to me.

  2. A good night of sleep is no small thing - I'm very happy you were able to achieve that peace of mind.

  3. "...both terrified and hopeful..."

    I'm glad that hope is in there with the terror. You are so courageous! I know that when you break through the brick wall you will feel so light. Yes, there will be pain, but also relief.

    Yay for a good night's sleep! That is an unexpected gift!


  4. You are amazing. I admire what you're doing and it seems that you're seeing tangible benefits from it, despite how difficult it can be at times.

    From someone who hasn't slept soundly in years, I'm so glad for you.